Building Regulations in the Spotlight as Non-Compliance Fallout Intensifies
Significant changes to the way building products are regulated in Australia now appear highly likely as the wave of public interest in the issue continues to grow.
Last week FPA Australia featured prominently in a damning report by A Current Affair into safety concerns at the Lacrosse apartment tower in Melbourne's Docklands, as well as the worrying lack of checks and balances around building product certification and approval more broadly.
The Association has advocated strongly that there must be a risk-based approach to building product compliance in Australia and the merits of this approach received support at the recent Building Ministers Forum held in late July. To download the outcomes communique from the Building Ministers' Forum click here.
The Forum agreed that the federal government will now investigate options for a possible mandatory scheme for high risk building products with life safety implications.
FPA Australia CEO Scott Williams said it was a fantastic outcome but significant work remained.
"This announcement demonstrates that the Building Ministers have listened to the industry and the community and acknowledged the extent of the issue," he said.
"The future establishment of a national register of 'fit-for-purpose' products which are high risk will restore confidence and certainty to the building industry and the community."
"The ABCB will report on the progress of the mandatory scheme for high risk products in six months and we will be supporting the ABCB and working with all stakeholders to ensure that any scheme is sound, robust and rigorous."
At the same time, the federal Senate is currently conducting its own investigation into the safety and legality of imported building materials in Australia.
FPA Australia has also submitted its detailed proposal for a risk-based approach to building product compliance to the inquiry and we look forward to positive reform as a result of this important investigation.
To view the Current Affair story click here. For more information call FPA Australia on 03 8892 3131.
FPA Australia To Make a Strong Submission to Senate Enquiry on Smoke Alarms
FPA Australia will soon lodge its submission to the federal senate enquiry into the use of smoke alarms to prevent smoke and fire related deaths.
This submission considers the current requirements for smoke alarms under the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and state and territory legislation for new construction and the state and territory legislation for smoke alarms in existing residential buildings to identify how the current requirement can be improved to prevent smoke and fire related deaths.
It explores the principles behind smoke alarms and their use to achieve their purpose—to detect fire in its initial development stage and provide early warning of the fire to allow occupants time to escape. The submission also explores the variances in legislative requirements for smoke alarms in new and existing residential buildings in each state and territory.
The findings indicate that the BCA requirements are, for the most part, suitable as a minimum. However, the BCA requirements can be further improved at minimal cost by specifying the most appropriate detection technology for the type of fire expected at the period of highest risk—a photoelectric smoke alarm to cover smouldering fires producing visible smoke when occupants are sleeping.
The BCA requirements can also be improved by providing more specific location requirements—especially that smoke alarms are provided in egress paths—to ensure smoke alarms achieve their purpose.
The review of the current requirements for smoke alarms in existing residential buildings indicated that there are significant omissions in legislation. Most specifically, smoke alarms are not required in almost all existing ACT residential buildings and only tenanted residential buildings in Tasmania and tenanted, hired or sold residential buildings in WA.
In 2015, the fact that not all existing residential buildings in Australia are required to have smoke alarms is a significant life safety concern.
The type of existing residential buildings covered by each state and territory’s legislative requirements for smoke alarms in existing residential buildings not only varied but the actual smoke alarm requirements for each state and territory varied significantly as well.
As such, FPA Australia has provided a suite of recommendations for improvements so that smoke alarms are provided in all residential buildings (owner-occupied and tenanted) and that smoke alarms are installed appropriately to ensure they achieve their purpose.
The deadline for submissions to the inquiry has been extended to August 31, with a reporting deadline of December 3, 2015. To learn more about the senate inquiry into the use of smoke alarms to prevent smoke and fire related deaths visit the inquiry webpage here. Alternatively you can view all of the submissions lodged so far here.
To download the Association's Position Statement on the Selection of Residential Smoke Alarms (PS-01 V1.1) click here.
FPA Australia's First Professional Level Member - Dr Jonathan Barnett
FPA Australia is extremely pleased to announce our first professional level member, Dr Jonathan Barnett.
The professional level of membership was launched on July 1, 2015 to recognise those individuals within our Association who are registered with a professional body and wish to take a more active role within the activities of the Association, such as participating on our Technical Advisory Committees (TACs).
Jonathan is an internationally acclaimed technical expert in fire engineering with over 38 years’ experience. Jonathan is currently the Technical Director for RED Fire Engineers, based in Melbourne.
In addition to his vast knowledge and experience, Jonathan is a longtime supporter of FPA Australia, so we couldn't be more pleased that he should be our first professional level member.
Many other applications for professional membership are currently being processed. For more information on Professional level membership and to apply, click here or call our Membership Services team on 03 8892 3131.
Review of Building Professionals Act - FPA Australia Looks Forward to Positive Outcomes in NSW
FPA Australia is eagerly awaiting the the results of the independent statutory review of the NSW Building Professionals Act (2005), which is examining the effectiveness of certification and building regulation in NSW.
In late 2014, the Assistant Minister for Planning (now the Minister for Planning), the Hon. Rob Stokes, appointed former Treasury Secretary Michael Lambert to conduct a broad review to examine certification and its application in the wider building industry
In May 2015 FPA Australia submitted a detailed submission which, while broadly supporting the recommendations contained in the discussion paper released in the same month, makes clear the need for adequate rigour to ensure that life, property and the environment are protected.
FPA Australia strongly believes the success of these reforms will require gradual introduction and ongoing guidance and support from government, in collaboration with relevant peak industry bodies.
In our submission the Association has advocated that our voluntary professional recognition schemes, the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) and the Bushfire Planning and Design Scheme (BPAD) be considered as suitable tools to benchmark the suitability of practitioners carrying out this work in NSW.
The Association has also strongly supported the inclusion of bushfire safety into the fire safety component of the NSW Act and believes that the lack of current requirements for ongoing maintenance and protection from bushfire is a key weakness that ought to be addressed.
Mr Lambert is expected to release a draft report for public exhibition in the coming months, with the final report released the year. We look forward to a strong and sound response from the review. To view the Review's broad Terms of Reference click here, to view the discussion paper released in May click here.
EAHL Training Special (Licence 2 & 3) - Members Price $1650
FPA Australia specialises in the provision of training and assessment required to enable technicians to apply for a Qualified Persons' Extinguishing Agent Handling Licence (EAHL).
Individuals who handle certain extinguishing agents require an EAHL unless exempted. These requirements are imposed by the Federal Government. Our EAHL Licence training products are delivered as self-study units, where each student enrols and receives materials to work through in their own time and pace.
We are currently offering a special offer including up to 50% off training for EAHL Licences 2 & 3 for our members. For more details on this special offer, click here.
Once self-study has taken place students can then enrol in one of the regular Assessment Sessions in order to be assessed. FPA Australia acknowledges that complying with the licence requirements is an added expense, therefore we are aiming to assist our members wherever possible through the provision of discounted training and assessment.
To learn more about FPA Australia's training options click here.
New Position Statement on Water Tanks Released
FPA Australia has just released a new technical document - Position Statement - 06 Water Storage Tanks for Fire Protection Systems.
The document outlines the Association's position that, while voluntary, AS 2304-2011, Water storage tanks for fire protection systems should be used for all new water storage tanks for fire protection systems as it represents best practice for—and the most comprehensive guidance on—the design, construction, installation, and commissioning of water storage tanks for fire protection systems.
The Position Statement also highlights a number of recommendations from FPA Australia which we believe should be applied in future versions.
To support this position, this document provides additional information on:
· The requirements that existed prior to AS 2304;
· The development of AS 2304; and
· The use of AS 2304.
This position statement also suggests some other minor changes which will improve the standard and increase the likelihood of its use. FPA Australia would like to acknowledge the work of TAC 4/8/9 in producing this important document. To download PS-06 Water Storage Tanks for Fire Protection Systems now, click here.
Fire Australia 2016 Details Released
It is with excitement that we are able to announce the details for the Fire Australia 2016 Conference and Trade Show.
Next year the premier fire protection event for the southern hemisphere will be held on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 May at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Next year the conference will also include the HazMat Conference, meaning even more attendees, speakers and exhibitors on offer from across the spectrum of fire protection and emergency response, special hazards and dangerous goods.
The conference dinner will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the evening of Wednesday May 4 and will no doubt feature a sporting theme. The trade show component will again provide a major highlight and is sure to draw many visitors building on the record attendance seen at the record-breaking 2015 event on the Gold Coast.
The HazMat stream of presentations will run alongside the two Fire Australia sessions, meaning attendees will be spoilt for choice of informative presentations to attend.
The 2016 conference theme is "Risk, Liability, Exposure - Delivering Positive Outcomes" and attendees can expect many of the presentations to focus on these important issues.
More details will be announced soon regarding sponsorship, exhibition and call for speakers and we encourage anyone interested in presenting at the conference to begin considering this theme and how they might engage with it.
Keep your eyes on www.fireaustralia.com.au for more announcements on Fire Australia 2016.
Strong Appetite for FPAS Fire Systems Design & Fire Systems Certification Accreditation
FPA Australia has been pleased by the strong support for our FPAS Fire Systems Design and Fire Systems Certification classes since they were announced in 2014.
The Association has received more than 150 expressions of interest and a strong initial wave of applications since July 1 2015.
We will also soon be announcing the first round of Workshops in NSW and Victoria which applicants are required to attend as part of gaining accreditation through the Experienced (transitional) pathway. Applicants outside of these two states are encouraged to get their application in early so that subsequent workshops and assessments can be facilitated in other states.
The workshops will cover the expectations of accredited individuals, key fundamentals and principles related to designing or certifying fire systems, current best practice and key elements of good practice in service delivery.
The assessment process has been developed to ensure that individuals applying for accreditation, in either fire systems design or fire systems certification, have a minimum knowledge and skill base in the particular category being applied for and in the jurisdiction being applied for.
For more information and to apply for accreditation in Fire Systems Design or Fire Systems Certification, download the relevant application pack here.
For more general information on FPAS click here or contact the Accreditation and Licensing Department on 03 8892 3131.
AFAC15 Conference - 1 Month to Go
The 2015 AFAC and Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC Emergency Management conference is now less than one month away!
Both AFAC members and non-members are urged to secure their place at the Australasian regions premier emergency services and public safety conference. Exploring the theme New Directions in Emergency Management, the conference will bring together the wisdom of experience, research and analysis from all areas of the emergency sector.
Held at the Adelaide Convention Centre and spanning four days from Tuesday 1 September until Friday 4 September, the conference will explore the rapidly evolving approach to emergency management.
Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of the leading knowledge-sharing event for emergency services, fire and land management, secure your place at AFAC15 now.
For more information about the conference including registration, conferencing activities and speaker profiles visit the conference website. You can also stay updated via twitter - #AFAC15.
Fire Protection Association Australia | Building 2, 31-47 Joseph Street, Blackburn North, VIC 3130 | 1300 731 922
The opinion or information provided to you in the FireSignals e-newsletter (verbal, written, electronic or by any other means) is forwarded in good faith on behalf of FPA Australia. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of any organisation with which the author is associated (including FPA Australia). FPA Australia or the individuals providing this opinion / information do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the opinion / information provided, nor do they accept either directly or indirectly any liabilities, losses and damages arising from the use and application of this opinion / information. FPA Australia does not endorse or support any of the advertising businesses or products in the FireSignals e-newsletter. All advertising businesses or products appearing in FireSignals e-newsletter do so at their own cost.